Tumba Olumofin Okutepa (SAN), legal counsel for the Social Democratic Party (SDP) gubernatorial candidate in the Kogi State elections, Murtala Yakubu Ajaka, has raised an alarm over reported attacks targeting members of the Kogi State Election Petition Tribunal.
The purported assaults, Okutepa claims, were orchestrated to disrupt the hearing and adjudication of a petition challenging the election’s outcome.
According to Okutepa, the Secretary of the Election Petition Tribunal encountered an alarming incident on Monday in Lokoja.
He said the Secretary was accosted at gunpoint by hired political thugs while in possession of copies of the election petition filed by Ajaka and the SDP legal team on December 2, 2023.
Highlighting the timeline of the petition filing, Okutepa emphasized its compliance within the constitutionally mandated period of 21 days following the election result declaration on November 12, 2023.
Citing the deteriorating situation in Kogi State under Governor Yahaya Bello’s administration, Okutepa decried the reported attacks on the tribunal’s Secretary, denouncing them as interfering with the due judicial process.
He urged swift intervention from the Nigerian government to restore order and ensure the safety of legal practitioners and judges involved in the case.
Okutepa urged prompt action from President Bola Tinubu’s administration to prevent further escalation and protect the lives of legal practitioners handling the matter.
He emphasized the urgent need for the Nigerian Bar Association to intervene, calling for an end to alleged state-sponsored attacks and advocating for the independence of the judiciary.
He further stressed the importance of close monitoring of Kogi State to forestall further upheaval and appealed for a peaceful resolution to the escalating tensions before they escalate further.
“The Nigerian Bar Association must speak and act now. It is becoming too difficult to practice law in Nigeria. Those who rigged the election are desperate, and they are doing everything to scuttle the hearing and determination of the petition.
“The judiciary must ensure that it takes judicial notice of the rascality going on in the state. There must be an end to these state-sponsored attacks.
“Nigerians are watching the Federal Government of Nigeria. Kogi State must be monitored strictly to avoid further anarchy.
“People are being pushed to the wall. There is a limit to human endurance. Kogi must not be allowed to be on fire and further. Enough is enough.”